HR Nicholls Society Conference Report

The highlight of the Brisbane conference of the HR Nicholls Society last Saturday was the dinner address by Queensland Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Jarrod Bleijie, followed by his proficient answering of questions for a considerable period, and the response by leading barrister Stuart Wood. While Bleijie spoke about various major problems which the Newman government has faced since acquiring office in 2012 (including the large net government sector debt left by Labor), he also outlined the government’s actions to  reduce disruptive activities on businesses by unions and bikie gangs. This includes legislation (just operative) designed to  prevent the fabrication of non-existent safety issues used to extort employers. It  removes the right of immediate entry by unions to work sites and the power of unions to direct workers to stop working because of an alleged unsafe situation.Most importantly, both Bleijie and Wood emphasised the need for a State to maintain law and order. In my question to Bleijie I suggested that, given the reluctance of the Abbott government to initiate proposals for major workplace relations reform, the States might be able to help by adopting policies specifically designed to protect property rights.

The need for law and order to be applied was also emphasised by former Royal Commissioner in NSW, Roger Gyles, who reported to the Greiner government in 1992. That government established a body to ensure the law was applied in the NSW building industry. Of particular importance was the direct involvement of police in the operation of that body (police forces are generally reluctant to prevent disruptive action by unions). The Greiner body, however, succeeded in moving NSW building costs down below those in other states – until, that is, Carr became Premier and dissolved the body. Read more